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The legacies of Osborne and Altmann

Natalie Holt, journalist with Money Marketing Photo by Michael Walter/Troika

It was not supposed to be like this. The expectation was for the UK to be stuck in political limbo until at least September pending the outcome of the Conservative leadership race.

Yet here we are barely into the tail end of July with not only a new Prime Minister, but a new Cabinet and a new pensions minister to boot.

George Osborne went to ground after the EU referendum, only to re-emerge and get sacked by the new PM.

His legacy is undoubtedly pension freedoms, for better or for worse. But he will also be remembered as the man who put Budget “rabbits” before consulting the industry on the detail. We wait to see what new Chancellor Philip Hammond makes of Osborne-led initiatives such as the Lifetime Isa and the creation of the secondary annuities market – and whether he is willing and able to strike the balance on pension tax relief reform.

As for Ros Altmann, her legacy is one of consumer champion turned stifled Tory peer and back again. She has issued several missives to the press since she left Government last week, and may yet prove to be a fierce and vocal critic of pension policy once more.

Speaking to Money Marketing, she counts among her achievements the introduction of digital state pension statements, the successful rollout of auto-enrolment and getting a Pensions Bill to deliver more protection for savers in master trusts.

She recognises there is more to do on the issue of the women’s state pension, but also argues information on what people should expect from the new state pension has improved.

Various members of the senior Government team have been described to me as knowledgeable, experienced, pragmatic – and, dare I say it, a bit boring. Given the pace of change at the moment, that is no bad thing.

The make-up of the new Government is interesting in understanding how financial services policy is likely to be shaped over the coming years. But it also informs financial services firms on how to position their Brexit arguments with the new breed of politicians.

Some large fund groups and institutions have already said they are ready to base themselves elsewhere if they do not get what they want out of negotiations. But the word from the inside is there is no point going in thinking you know better than the new Government, or that somehow the Leave vote can be undone. As our new leader is so fond of telling us: “Brexit means Brexit”.

Natalie Holt is the editor of Money Marketing


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There are 5 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Don’t forget the 8.45 million of taxpayers money blown on creating a giant fluffy ‘monster’ named Workie. If you write an article on legacies this one has to be one of biggest, pun not intended, waste of public money to come from the reign of Ms Altmann. Also she did nothing to end the frozen pension scandal, you know the one, where state pensioners have their pensions frozen, no indexing or triple lock for them, just because of where they live. Ms Altmann was an advocate for the 4% who are victims of this injustice, but refused to do anything once she became pensions minister, Webb was the same, thought the whole thing was wrong that ALL state pensioners are entitled to yearly increases. Funny that once in a position to right a wrong….zilch.
    Legacies are a two way street some good some downright bad, the 4% who suffer from the frozen pension scandal will only remember that their paid for state pensions are still frozen and some are as low as £20 a week. Yet still they are told the country, one of the richest in the world has no money to pay what is rightfully theirs, but waste millions on a fluffy monster.

  2. So these ‘frozen pensioners’ have opted out of life in the UK but still expect the UK tax payer to fund increases based on the performance of the U.K. Economy, to which they are not contributing one jot….and this is ‘unfair’. I wonder what the position would be if they returned to the UK to live and spend their money within the UK economy?

    • Andy Robertson-Fox 21st July 2016 at 11:21 am

      Wrong Ted – all UK citizens including pensioners are assessable for UK tax; many have and meet such a liability
      If they returned to the UK they would place an extra burden on the economy of not just the ıncrease ın theır pensıon but also of around £4,000 per year per pensioner through claims on housing, pensioner benefits and allowances and NHS and eye test and…….(DWP confirmed figure)
      These frozen pensioners are campaigning for the pension they have earned by making their NI contributions during their working lives on the same condıtıons and terms as everyone else and thereby be treated equally with the pensioners resident in the UK and the 640,000 who also live abroad and do get the annual ıncrease through index linking.

  3. Graham Peacock 21st July 2016 at 9:47 pm

    change the only constant especially if you run a pensions business. delighted to to hear Ros Altman back in the chair. Osbornes legacy of pensions freedoms might well be popular with many but also a cunning stealth tax move. Altamans legacy is much broader as we saw a consumer champion pension expert neutralized by office. So is it time for an “MPC” style approach to pensions policy? Lets take the “rabbits out of the budget hat” away from an independent long term pension policy and while I am on the subject would someone get rid of LISA….this was never part of any long term strategy

  4. Au contraire Mr Peacock, my understanding is that the LISA was the brainchild of Michael Johnson of the Centre for Policy Studies and the long term strategy was/is to do away with the need for a State Pension.

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